For social reflexivity in Organization and Management Theory

Chris Carter, Crawford Spence

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract / Description of output

This chapter argues that while Organization and Management Theory (OMT) appears in good health it stands on the precipice of a crisis of its own making. This stems from an overly self-referential and narrow focus on theoretical contribution, at the expense of a broader set of societal commitments. Paradoxically, this is particularly the case if a researcher is putatively engaging with broader societal issues. The central thesis advanced in this chapter is that researchers should be more socially reflexive about what they are researching, why they are researching it, and for whom. As a corollary, the chapter calls for researchers to interrogate the research that they are undertaking critically and to work out the broader social significance of their work. The chapter unfolds with concise analyses of two branches of OMT: the sociology of the professions and institutional theory. The chapter highlights how research into the professions runs the danger of being captured by the objects of its research: as researchers busy themselves examining pre-existing concepts, rather than exploring the power struggles that take place in particular fields. The chapter argues for a re-framing of research into the professions. The chapter highlights the rise of institutional theory to its current position of dominance within OMT. Institutional theory’s recent move to study ‘Grand Challenges’ is welcomed but also problematised. The chapter closes with reflections on a course of action for making OMT matter.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Production of Managerial Knowledge and Organizational Theory
Subtitle of host publicationNew Aproaches to Writing, Producing and Consuming Theory
EditorsTammar Zilber, John Amis, Johanna Mair
PublisherEmerald Publishing
ISBN (Electronic)9781787691834
ISBN (Print)9781787691841
Publication statusPublished - 11 Apr 2019

Publication series

NameResearch in the Sociology of Organizations

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Bourdieu
  • institutional theory
  • professions
  • reflexivity
  • grand challenges


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